I hate bedtime. There, I said it. I hate it. It used to be easier! I’m not talking about when my girls were confined to a crib either. I’m talking about those nights when my girls were small and they would fall asleep as we were reading bedtime stories. Then I would have 90 glorious minutes all to myself, which I promptly used to wash dishes, do laundry or catch up on work before I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. Now that my girls are older, bedtime looks a bit like this:
Me: “Girls it’s storytime. Go get some books.”
Girls: “OK Mommy!” (proceeding to continue their living room dance party)
Me: “Girls, no more ballet, it is storytime. Go get the books we just borrowed from the library.”
Girls: (ignoring me completely) “Mommy watch this!” (as they cartwheel across the living room)
Me: “Girls I’m setting a timer. In 5 minutes we read. Alexa set a 5-minute timer!”
Alexa: “5 minutes starting now.”
Me: “Girls, time’s up. Everyone upstairs.”
Girls: “NOOOOOOO!!! I don’t want to read stories!!! I’m hungry!!!
You get the idea. The process of getting them settled down to read stories takes no less than 30 minutes. Then we still have to read books! Now for the next challenge. I still have to get them tucked into their beds.
Begin phase 2 of Operation Bedtime. Once I manage to tuck them into their beds they both need nighttime music, their favorite stuffed animal, a back scratch, a kiss, a hug, a cuddle, another kiss, another hug, and a different stuffed animal. Then I try to leave. “Mommy don’t go yet,” they scream! It is exhausting. I try to start storytime at 7 pm and after all the hassle of the bedtime routine, my girls are finally asleep between 9:45 and 10 pm. Nevermind giving them a bath. I don’t know what will happen when they hit adolescence because right now they only bathe about once a week.
Queue the mommy guilt. By the time they are asleep, I am too exhausted to do anything. All I want to do is get under the covers and catch the next episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel before I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I would get angry with the kids and with myself. I would obsess about all the times I got frustrated with the girls, I hated the fact that I was handling it alone (because daddy works nights) and I’d fall asleep vowing the next night would be different. The next night always came with more of the same.
I found a way to change my mindset and routine. I realized that this bedtime routine is just the way things are for now. My girls like to play, they like to read and they like to cuddle and all of those things are priceless! I stopped thinking about all the things I could do after they went to bed because I would get angry with myself when I was too tired to do them. Turns out that I end up waking up earlier than the kids during the day. I can get up about two hours before they do which gives me time to get ready for the day and work on one chore. I have given myself permission to be tired and not have to power through it. My kitchen is still a mess as I type this, but there is always tomorrow. My girls are growing up so fast and I don’t want to miss it.
This is how I help my clients. I like to practice what I preach. By taking my own advice I am able to relate to what others are experiencing. It takes time and persistence when changing the way you view a situation. Through my own experiences, I am able to grow and become a better resource for others.